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Working Group On Victim Assistance

Founded in May 1999 the Working Group on Victim Assistance (WGVA) was co-chaired by Landmine Survivors Network (LSN) from 1998 and by Ugandan landmine survivor Margaret Arach Orech from 2003. In 2005, Handicap International (HI) replaced the LSN to become co-chair with Margaret Arach Orech. Kirsten Young from LSN and ICBL Ambassador Tun Channareth serve as supporters to the WG, and Sheree Bailey from HI and Prasanna Kuruppu, a campaigner from Sri Lanka serve as advisors. The WGVA counts approximately 98 organizations in its membership.

The WGVA has four inter-related objectives:

  • to advocate for, monitor, and provide guidance to the international community as to where, what, and how victim assistance is needed;
  • to promote increased coverage, funding, and sustainability of victim assistance programs;
  • to promote improvements in the quality of programs for landmine victims and other persons with disability; and
  • to facilitate inclusion of landmine victims in the substantive work of the Standing Committees, annual meetings of States Parties, as well as country campaigns and the ICBL.

The WGVA works to ensure implementation of Article 6.3 of the Mine Ban Treaty which calls on States Parties to “provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration of mine victims....” The Working Group encourages affected states to develop and start implementing Action Plans to address the needs and rights of mine survivors.

In 2004 and 2005, the WGVA continued to advocate for increased and improved assistance for landmine survivors during its participation in the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, the Nairobi Summit, and other meetings, as well as through the Raising the Voices program (see below). WGVA members reviewed and contributed to official victim assistance documents drafted by the Standing Committee for preparation of the Nairobi Review Conference.

The WGVA continued to advocate for greater involvement of the victim assistance community in the draft Disability Rights Convention process. Members of the WGVA also participated actively in the negotiations taking place in New York. 

Intersessional work

The WGVA continued to promote focused work within the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, encouraging greater interest in a short list of 24 countries[1] whose VA needs are the most profound.  The WGVA co-chairs made statements during the 2004 and 2005 intersessional SC meetings, and WGVA advisor Sheree Bailey served as an expert respondent to States Parties’ interventions during the 2005 intersessional SC meetings.

The WGVA co-chairs, supporters and advisors worked very closely with the SC co-chairs on the development of a questionnaire for States Parties on their progress in victim assistance, with a view toward identifying concrete objectives and plans for meeting them by 2009.[2] WGVA members participated in, and gave presentations at, two regional workshops organized by the SC co-chairs in the lead-up to the 2005 intersessional SC meetings. The goal of the workshops—which took place in Managua, Nicaragua in April 2005 and Nairobi in May 2005—was to promote a comprehensive response to the questionnaire by participating States Parties.

Members of the ICBL Working Group on Victim Assistance presented three reports at the June 2005 SC meeting: “101 Great Ideas for the Socio-Economic Reintegration of Mine Survivors,” which aims to motivate, inspire and assist with identifying effective approaches to facilitate the socio-economic reintegration of mine survivors and other persons with disabilities; “National Legal Frameworks Relating to Persons with Disabilities in Heavily Mine-Affected Countries,” a study conducted by the Landmine Survivors Network on the extent to which mine victims are protected and supported by effective laws and policies; and “Landmine Victim Assistance in 2004: Overview of the Situation in 24 States Parties.” The goal of the last report is to provide a baseline on which to measure progress on the implementation of the Nairobi Action Plan over the next five years. In addition, Handicap International is planning a follow-up study on socio-economic reintegration: a framework document highlighting methodologies, strategies, partnerships and other key factors facilitating the implementation of successful and sustainable projects for economic integration, mainly through self-employment and the creation of income-generating activities.

Raising the Voices

The Raising the Voices leadership-training program for Landmine Survivor Advocates continued in its fourth and last year in 2004. Raising the Voices was an advocacy and leadership training program for landmines survivors supported by Canada and Norway. Developed in 2001, it trained survivors from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, CIS and the Middle East.

In June 2004, the Raising the Voices session focused on the Middle East and North Africa; eight survivors came to participate in the intersessional Standing Committee meetings. At the end of the week they wrote a letter to the Geneva missions of all Arabic-speaking countries calling for their participation in the Nairobi Summit as well as inclusion of representatives of health and social affairs in their delegations.

The program culminated with a gathering of over 40 program graduates at the Nairobi Summit, representing all regions of the world.  The survivors participated in a preparatory workshop, a Survivor Summit, and other advocacy activities held in relation to the Summit, such as a 3 December event celebrating the UN International Day of Disabled Persons with Disabilities. They formed an integral part of the ICBL delegation, demonstrating their skills as effective advocates for the Mine Ban Treaty and the rights of persons with disabilities. The WGVA has advocated with States Parties for the institutionalization of participation of landmine survivors in the intersessional meetings and annual Meetings of States Parties in the post-Nairobi period.

An additional Raising the Voices session was held in Kampala, Uganda from 28 August to 3 September 2005. This advocacy training workshop, organized by co-chair Margaret Arach Orech and Canadian Young Professional Olivier Le Blanc, gathered 10 participants from Eritrea, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda for the first workshop of its kind in the region.

[1] Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Peru, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sudan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda, Yemen.
[2] See http://www.gichd.ch/fileadmin/pdf/mbc/IWP/SC_june05/SCVA_June05_questionnaire_e.pdf